By Peter Tacy GP’20, Headmaster, 1981-1989, Trustee
From Cornwall to Kent: The Unique History of The Marvelwood School
The Marvelwood School was founded in 1956 by Robert A. Bodkin and Ian Hanna in Cornwall, Connecticut, on the site of the former Calhoun estate. After several summers teaching reading at the Salisbury Summer School, they felt there was a need for a school for boys who had "not yet discovered how to make the most of themselves." These two men created Marvelwood to fill the gap between conventional college preparatory schools and strictly remedial schools by providing an appropriate mix of structure, support and challenge. Ian Hanna named the school in recognition of his relative Donald Grant Mitchell, an American novelist who was best known under the pseudonym Ik Marvel. The family owned a 600-acre estate, at the site of the present Yale Bowl in New Haven, called Marvelwood.
Over the past five-and-a-half decades, the mission of the School has remained fundamentally unchanged. Extraordinary attention continues to be paid to each student's individual needs, harkening back to the day when Mrs. Bodkin would watch students working in the Library to see which were struggling and needed further attention. A carefully curated applications process ensures a diverse mix of domestic and international students, and students with a wide range of academic talents. Today, the School combines conventional prep school education, including AP courses, with curriculum designed to provide customized support where needed.
The founder, Robert A. Bodkin, remained Headmaster until 1981. He was succeeded by Peter B. Tacy until 1989, H. Mark Johnson until 1997, Anne Davidson Scott until 2005, Scott E. Pottbecker until 2011 and Arthur F. Goodearl, Jr. until 2018.
Blythe Everett P'14, '16 is the current Head of School.
The School has grown considerably since the first four young men graduated in 1958. In 1970 the School became a coeducational institution, and in 1995 moved from its small campus in Cornwall, where many dormitories were located in private homes, to much larger facilities in nearby Kent. The move was facilitated in just about a month with students, faculty and the extended Marvelwood community pitching in to help. The new site, formerly the Kent School girls' campus, is able to accommodate the growing student population with plenty of room for expansion. Shortly following the move, the School's enrollment nearly doubled.